Schiit Sol- The Next Great Turntable?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by msinderson, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Dr. Metal MD

    Dr. Metal MD Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Very very interested in this turntable. Currently have a Technics 1200 that I have been modifying over the years that I love, but looking at my next turntable, may check this one out. I love Schiit products. Appreciate the reviews here. Excited to hear more about this table as time passes. Considering getting this versus saving for awhile and getting a VPI.
     
    grokit likes this.
  2. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    I haven't got the time and energy to be everywhere, but I've certainly got nothing against a site that shares my name. Understand that, though I've worked on Sol with Schiit for a good few years, I'm not an employee, can't always read their minds and try to be somewhat guarded in my comments. Since I had a hand in the design, I'm a bit biased, so you have to factor that in as well.

    I know that right now they're waiting for parts to upgrade the beta units. It takes a minimum of a couple weeks to get parts and then some testing has to occur. Thus, not a lot of chatter from anybody. I was actually late to the party in getting a production unit, but I've worked through pretty much all the issues.

    The head shell was my bad. I never dreamed that the cartridge clips would be as long as they were and I just didn't leave enough room. A whole new head shell has been designed, with more room for clips, wires and the kitchen sink. The mass doesn't change too much. I do have a spreadsheet with the mass and radius of every part, to calculate the effective mass, but I need to update it. We wanted a long arm from the beginning and that means you get a medium effective mass unless you take heroic measures. That may be in the future if there's demand for it, but the arm is well suited to most mid-range cartridges on the market right now.

    I won't address every issue here, just a couple things that might seem bizarre. The anti-skate system works very well, but only if the loop is in the right place, which it isn't. No idea what the official solution will be for the beta units, so I won't suggest a fix right now. The lateral balance weight is too heavy. New ones are being made. Note that the threaded rod is supposed to be fixed in place with a drop of Loctite. The set-up video was limited by the issues with the beta unit, so don't dwell on the details. I'm working on a couple videos of my own but I don't know if they'll see the light of day, or if Schiit will just use them to improve their own. You win either way.

    AFAIK, they have the platter wobble issue under control. Keep in mind that an error at the spindle gets magnified at the edge of the platter, so getting zero vertical runout is way harder than you might think. Hey, it's a learning curve. There are a bunch of other fixes underway so we'll see how they do when the beta tables get upgraded and new production tables get shipped.

    I'm in the midst of some serious busy time with the day job that puts food on the table, so I can't always respond to forums, especially PMs, but will usually respond to an email.
     
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  3. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    Reading and watching on-line, you might get the impression that Sol is a pile of parts that can be assembled and adjusted in any haphazard fashion. Not True! It's a minimalist design where every part has a specific function and relation to every other part.

    There were a couple things I never intended to be changed by the user, but the nature of the parts and assembly does make adjustment possible. Those include the bearing cup in the arm, which should be set so the rod is flush to the outside of the ring, and the platter height. When you change the position of the bearing cup, it changes the relation of the pivot point to the center of gravity of the arm. That has various ramifications including arm stability and even effective mass. Fool with it at your own risk and preferably after you have your 2nd degree black belt in tone arm geometry. The platter height became an issue when we added the on-the-fly VTA adjustment. It's hard to predict where the sweet spot will be for any given cartridge, so the platter has to be high enough for initial setup. I think new spindles are being made to allow for that. If it turns out you have a lot of space under the arm, it's OK to lower the platter and arm. It's also OK not to. It's a matter of sex, rather than science. IMO, Sol just looks better with a lower platter position.

    Several people have asked for leveling feet. IMO, unless your beer is sitting in a puddle of condensation, and slides off the table onto the floor, Sol should be just fine. Side forces are minimal with slight out-of-level; don't worry about it. No doubt demand will cause leveling feet to be offered at some point, but they're unlikely to improve performance.

    Once things are in the correct initial positions, which I assume is how Sol will ship, setup is similar to any other table. Get the cartridge mounted, set the distance so it follows the arc, then get it twisted to match the grid. Set the VTA so the arm is parallel to the record (use an index card with some parallel lines). Hang an anti-skate weight and play a record. Takes about 20 minutes if you get really fussy with the cartridge alignment.

    I like to say a record lathe is a precision machine tool for cutting records; Sol is a precision machine tool for playing them back.

    CH
     
  4. Steve Baker

    Steve Baker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Columbia, Maryland
    Thanks for the update Conrad! Still gonna get this once the dust has settled.
     
  5. Ripblade

    Ripblade Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Six
    I've changed out the clips on one and gained almost 1/4" of extra room, but when the cartridge is aligned to the arc, the screws are still almost all the way to the back of the slots. The interim arm with the shorter CF pipe eases this but I believe it could be made even shorter. I think with the right clips the shell on the interim arm is fine as it is, but the other issue is the location of the ground screw as it is almost directly in line with one of the pins. BTW, this has got to be the easiest arm to align: resting the arm in my lap I simply use a ruled straight edge, set one end at 9.5mm which is the forward end of the 19mm pivot slot in the ring, then set the stylus tip at 279mm, square the cartridge up parallel with the front edge of the shell and snug the screws. It usually only needs a minor adjustment once the arm is on the table and over the protractor.

    Do you know if the rod length has been changed? Both of my arms came preset with the rod about 1/4" above the ring, which I assumed was intentional, so I haven't changed it. However, with 2 arms I noticed setting the VTA on the 2nd to match the 1st for quick changeovers means adjusting the rod instead of the pivot. It has me wondering why the rod wasn't threaded to make this easier, but that's another matter.

    For future reference, what is the intended vertical placement of the pivot? In line with the pipe, record surface, or....?

    Thanks for taking the time to post your input, CH....this is very helpful.
     
  6. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    AFAIK, the pivot bearing rod hasn't been changed as I personally processed the last batch. Make it flush with the top of the ring. I'll have to check the drawings, but I think that puts the pivot almost dead center in the ring, but don't quote me- I'm old.

    Think in terms of pivot point vs. the center of gravity of the arm. If the pivot point is high in relation to the center of gravity, the arm will be very stable as it hangs there. It will also change tracking force with angle, like going over record warps. Not technically correct, but I think of it as being sluggish. If the pivot point is near or even below the center of gravity, the arm will be unstable or even flop over on its own. Not a good thing! I chose the pivot location as the best compromise between stability and various other things.

    Hint- start with the gap between the platter and plinth at 0.5 inches (or whatever you can get with the current spindle- 0.4 inches would be fine.) Easiest to set/check with a piece paper cut to that dimension. Set the arm bearing cup as above. Set the arm support (sharp pointy thing) at 1 inch above the plinth using the VTA adjustment. Proceed from there and life should be pretty good. Most cartridges will only need a minor VTA adjustment to get the arm level, and there should be enough room to play with slightly tail-up and tail-down positions. Remember that when you adjust the VTA, it will usually be necessary to fine tune the cueing. Aim for about 1/4 inch above the record for arm-up.

    Email or PM me for more info on anti-skate.
    :)
     
    Kyhl likes this.
  7. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    Arm pivot is about 0.02" below the center of the ring.
     
  8. Ripblade

    Ripblade Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Six
    Thanks, CH. Right now mine are about in line with a third down from the top. Don't quote me on this as I'm old too. Lol.

    I'll make the change and report back. The first cartridge I tried sounded a bit wobbly, but others I've tried since have had much better pitch stability, but still not quite as stable as a rigid arm, in my subjective experience. I suspected this was due to a need to tweak the pivot height but I've been enjoying the sound as it is anyway. Very engaging, in 2 words.
     
  9. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    One other thing- the bearing cup on the beta units had less-than-wonderful geometry at the bottom where the point rests. New ones (that I processed) should be in the Schiit upgrade kit. Pitch stability can be a lot of things. The belts they sent me seem pretty good, but I know that a bad belt can be trouble. I should probably cut one, then reglue it both with and without twist, to see how big the effect is.
     
  10. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    So, Conrad, it seems to me that a number of parts in Sols that were initially shipped were out of specification or had incorrect tolerances or dimensions and "slipped through the cracks" of QC operators inspecting them. Parts of the wrong specification, tolerances, or dimensions are classified by the mfg industry as "non-conforming". Do you happen to know if Schiit has implemented a measurement systems analysis (MSA aka gage R&R) so that they know with statistical rigor that the gauges (e.g. micrometers, or other dimension-measuring instruments, e.g. a Keyence system) and the operators using them have sufficient measurement precision* to identify conforming parts from non-conforming parts during QC inspection?

    *– the key metric here is called the "precision-to-tolerance" ratio.
     
  11. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    No idea, but remember that what shipped was supposed to be beta units to catch this stuff, not production tables. I don't know anything about the internal working and processes of Schiit, so can't comment. You won't like what I'm going to say next, but rest assured that I have my Nomex underwear on. :D

    I've worked in the optical, scientific and precision instrument business for about 45 years. Metrology is actually a hobby of mine. I'm pretty good at processes and tolerances. My conclusion is that companies doing low volume work and having their parts made in the (expensive) USA can't afford statistical rigor. You often hear that they can't afford not to, but the reality is that small batch assembly of rapidly changing products makes it near impossible unless you price the products too high to sell. Then, of course, you have no business to worry about. The cost of measurement equipment (priced Keyence lately?) and (impossible to find) skilled people to do the work, is prohibitive. At one time I thought about going into the micro-machining business because there weren't many people that could do it. The cost of the machines was bad enough, but when I realized what it would take to check the parts, I scrapped the whole idea. No profits to be made. Everybody I've ever worked for, and they were all reputable and well known in their businesses, did minimal QC and generally relied on final test to catch problems. My day job right now is actually an exception and we have very good metrology equipment, stuff I would have killed for in the past. Still, it's all small batch assembly and even knowing what to track is tough. Applying six-sigma on a build run of 10 is a bit foolish. I know the Schiit build quantities are higher (no idea how much) but they're not General Motors. Bottom line, based on your comments, I doubt you'll ever be happy with the processes used to build low volume and specialty products in the USA.
     
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  12. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    Is that true, that the initial tables shipped were supposed to be beta units? Is so then I suppose the hassles were to be expected as being part of the process.
     
  13. allegro

    allegro Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    Jason at Schiit posted both on Head-Fi and SBAF that they did not do a true beta test on Sol. Contrast to the Unison USB receiver board that was heavily beta tested on Yggdrasil and Bifrost and so far seems to be performing without problems in production on the Bifrost 2.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
  14. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    No, the initial set of shipments were shipped as final product, there was no beta test period prior to release for general sale. The beta program only started when it was realized there were considerable quality problems from those initial shipments. Jason Stoddard is on record that not doing a beta prior to launch was a mistake.
     
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  15. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    That is correct.
     
  16. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    AFAIK, they were going to do a beta test. We had certainly discussed it in the past. How they jumped ahead to shipping "production" tables will probably remain a tale untold. FWIW, the issues with the tables are more the sorting out of design, assembly and setup aspects, rather than part problems. I'm only aware of two things that were the result of out-of-spec parts, though again, I'm not privy to every production detail.
     
  17. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    Hi Conrad, thank you for your in-depth and courteous reply. No worries, no flames coming from this direction. I'm hoping we can have a meaningful conversation as two professionals that will genuinely help Schiit resolve Sol quality problems.

    With that understanding in place, for the sake of accuracy, its of note there was no beta program before the first run of Sols were shipped, this was publicly acknowledged as mistake by Jason at Schiit. The beta program was only put in place after production was stopped due to the quality problems encountered with the first number of Sols in customers hands. Marv's initial assessment at SBAF clearly identified a number of key quality problems due to things like dimensional variances, bearing tolerances, platter flatness, belt variability, and some other problem areas e.g. the anti-skate thread, and the lateral balance weight being too heavy (how did that happen? A simple design FMEA would have prevented this).

    As for companies doing low volume work not being able to afford statistical rigor, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Its because these parts are so expensive that the mfr needs to know that they can determine conforming parts from non-conforming parts, because scrapping expensive non-conforming parts is just a waste of money and drives up COPQ and lowers profit. And Schiit needs to be profitable making Sol for this product to remain in production.

    And, let's be clear, I'm not talking about doing MSA all the time. But, it could have, and should been done, at least once, before the start manufacturing checkpoint (SMC) to demonstrate that the QC operators have protocols & gauges that produce a P/T ratio to know whether these expensive parts were conforming, or not. The MSA would have also elucidated any Part*Operator interactions that would let Schiit know if QC operator training and the QC protocols were fit-for-purpose. The problem with doing QC only on final test is that, if you have tolerance stack-up problems, inspection only at final test often does not elucidate the sources of where the tolerance stack-up problems are coming from. This is like closing the barn doors after the horse has bolted.

    Lastly, I'm not pushing 6S, I'm suggesting that Schiit implement just 3 best-practices used industry-wide for manfuacturing: MSA, capability analysis, and control charting. In my professional view, any company that manufactures products where achieving tight dimensions/tolerances of expensive parts that does not do this risks continuing to lose money over the long term due to defects, scrap, and re-processing. And Schiit has already lost considerable money on Sol due to the replacements costs for bad parts, implementing the beta and refund programs, and having to pull Sol from production.

    My thought and recommendations, Conrad, are provided for consideration. I'd be happy to fly down to SoCal at my own cost and provide them some consulting on this; and I offered to help Schiit with this at SBAF and never heard from them. Maybe they think they've got things under control, and that's fine. But, I also think it would be beneficial to know they've got things under control, and can put the Ops for Sol into statistical control.

    PS - the platter belt may continue to be a problem. I know for a fact that Rega puts considerable resources into grinding their drive belts to achieve very tight tolerances with high precision; this is why replacement OEM drive belts for Rega TTs cost the better part of $40.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
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  18. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    I make suggestions, but it's certainly up to Schiit as to what to do or not do. That said, IMO there are remarkably few tolerances in Sol that matter. Most everything else is cosmetic and could be off by a mile. Almost like somebody designed it that way. :cool: Narrowing things down to those few critical-to-function items makes the QC job much easier. I think they're on the road to that, but it's a learning curve they need to travel. A good belt is hard to find. Never tell your wife you need a good belt!
     
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  19. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    Well, that's exactly what I'm talking about...it's called Critical Parameter Management or CPM. Usually its just 3-6 parameters that are critical for achieving specified functionality. If I were to hazard a guess for Sol its something along the lines of : 1) platter bearing (and spindle) tolerances, 2) tonearm bearing tolerances (Roy Gandy says these are critical), 3) platter runout and 4) flatness, 5) drive pulley tolerances, and 6) drive belt diameter uniformity and precision.

    I agree a good belt is hard to find, or manufacture. This is why Rega puts so much effort into manufacturing very high quality drive belts.
     
  20. AlmanacZinger

    AlmanacZinger Zingin'

    Location:
    The Land of Zaat
    Are you talking about here or elsewhere/other forums? Cuz the Schiit owners here, aside from the silly Schiit jokes, aren't any sort of brand cultists. If you've ever actually read the posts of Schiit owners here we discuss both pros and cons of the company, anything from customer service and not offering (regularly) black products to more in-depth performance/synergy issues. I myself have PM discussions with other owners about some hits/misses/pros/cons of the company's products as well as discussing them publicly on the forums.

    On the other hand, I smell a bit of projection from the Schiit detractors here. Rarely do they offer meaningful arguments/conversations/alternatives to Schiit patrons; just ad hominems and borderline tantrums about why people should hate Schiit as much as they do and how Schiit really isn't as cool as its snarky marketing campaign suggests.

    Interestingly, it seems as if someone affiliated with Schiit actually peeks in, then the detractors sweeten their tone a bit. Otherwise it's jabs about how this company may be someone's first X product, etc. Well, so what? Everyone has a gateway into audio and Schiit do a good job of marketing toward a specific economic demographic. Every time I look elsewhere to compare products, it seems I'd have to take out a mortgage to purchase from other companies.

    As a consumer I do want Schiit to succeed. Made in the USA is good. Their prices are good. Their modular approach to most products are good. And their crazy, out-of-the-box ideas are good (I'll be first in line if they follow through with that insane sounding software idea that can helps negate the effects of The Loudness Wars). But just because I want them to succeed doesn't mean they get a free ride. In fact, currently I've sold all my Schiit gear and am looking at alternatives. I may find some, I may not. They've released some items in the meantime that have caught my eye and rekindled interest (BiFrost 2? In black? A turntable with removable arms? Class A(ish) amps? Yes, please).

    Whatever the case, if I become a customer again, it's because they earned it, not because I care about the brand logo. That's silly. And I don't see much of case for your argument of that happening...at least not here. Elsewhere? You may be right, but why complain about it here? So, yeah I need some receipts on the Schiit cult insofar as they exists on this forum.

    Another thing I want to point out is that the company absolutely has professional competition with incentives to see them go down, which makes me all the more skeptical reading constant griping about company brand loyalty without focusing on actual faults (which the company does have).

    So in short, yes Schiit have many fans that would like to see them succeed. But not on these boards do they have a blind loyal following that'll buy every product they put out, disregarding actual quality. And if detractors would like to be successful they have to engage in meaningful discussions suggesting reasonable alternatives (in terms of price and performance) and not just whine about Schiit's popularity. Just because we bought Schiit gear in the past and want them to succeed, doesn't mean we're not open to better options if they exist.

    So if you have some suggestions I'm genuinely all ears. Let's talk. It could only help fellow consumers or even Schiit themselves.
     
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  21. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    lol I’m not reading all that.
     
  22. brimuchmuze

    brimuchmuze Forum Resident

    Any needledrops for this turntable?
     
  23. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    I can certainly do one, but I'm kinda dumb about some aspects- what can I get away with regarding copyrights? What does fair use cover? How do people post what they do on Youtube and get away with it? It only makes sense if it's full bandwidth, so what sort of format do people want? FLAC? My upload speed sucks, so it can't be too big.
     
  24. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    YouTube

    You'll have to search for the specific song and see what the rights holder's policy is - see link above. It may be allowed and revenue will go to the rights holder, or it may not be allowed and treated as "blocked". Some YT uploaders are basically playing the waiting game until their stuff gets taken down or autoblocked. YT will add compression no matter what the format of the file you upload is.

    Best bet to avoid the copyright police is to find a song that falls under a Creative Commons license and obtain permission for use. These are going to be songs by lesser known, independent artists, and yes these types of artists do sometimes release music on LP.
     
  25. ConradH

    ConradH Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canandaigua, NY
    I'm assuming a needledrop for our purposes will be quite short and might fall under fair use rules. I'd upload it direct or host it on my site, not YT, as I don't want any compression.
     

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